Introducing McFinn

“Jesus, it’s cold” whispered Sgt. Patty McFinn, the first responding officer. The precinct had radioed in the call at about a quarter past eleven. Two men had been found knocked unconscious in the middle of Paradise Alley, bolo tied together like something you’d see in a comic book. McFinn wasn’t surprised- this was the third such find this week. He didn’t touch the men because he knew Detective Shephard would want to inspect every inch of the scene. He hopped up and down, trying to stay warm while he waited for the investigators to show up. And that’s when a voice like the sound of slow, crunching gravel gripped him in a vice of icey terror: “This city is mine, McFinn. Tell your Captain to keep these lowlifes locked up…or I’ll hold him accountable.”

The Night Man.

He was real.

McFinn didn’t turn around, held hostage by a primal fear of what he’d see…until the whirl of what could only be a leather cape vanishing into the wind, released him. “Shit…”


Kirk’s Return

“Man it’s colder than a flat frog on a February Philadelphia freeway,” he thought as he decided to take a shortcut down the alleyway. “This was a big fucking mistake,” he mumbled aloud with no one around to hear him. The snow was cutting sideways from the north and running parallel to the ground. It hit his face with a force that suddenly reminded him of the sandstorm outside of that city, that damn city with the funny four letter name…Qatr? Qasr?… in Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield back in January of, what was it, 1991? “Jesus, I’m getting old,” he thought…or did he say that out loud as well? It didn’t really matter, he just knew he had to find someplace where he could get out of this suddenly terrible blizzard he’d found himself in.

It had been years – what, maybe ten? Fifteen? – since he had been back in his hometown and when news that Tommy Kirk was back on the streets of Lorain, Ohio, well, let’s just say that towns like this don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon for ex-con’s with a record as long as the Old Testament.

The wind was blowing in gusts and every now and then it seemed as though the snow would completely stop and the night would become surrealistically serene, damn cold, but serene. Which is exactly what happened as he approached the entry stoop with the weird red light glowing. Tommy took a quick step up and into the door cove and pulled his hoodie back.

“S..O..T..D? What the…?” He looked back out of the doorway to his left and then to his right. He swirled back around to look at the mysterious letters on the doorway again and only then did it dawn on him.
“Holy shit,” he muttered out loud. “This is the building where Uncle George fucking died.”

The Night Man

The Night Man swayed gently on his perch, 30ft above the ground, balanced perfectly atop the telephone pole he’d adopted as his perfect surveying spot. The winter winds didn’t bother him as he watched Tommy Kirk turn down Paradise Alley. His informants throughout the city were paid good money to let him know when someone came into town. By his walk, he knew the man was ex-military. Knew how to handle himself in a fight. But he was preoccupied. He hesitated before he walked into the new establishment that had suddenly opened its door in the heart of The Night Man’s city. He’d be keeping an eye on this place. He was still unsure as to what role it would play in the oncoming events of the sleeping town. Then he noticed the two thugs he was looking for. His eyes narrowed. Sgt McFinn would be the first to respond on the scene. He’d make sure the two perps could talk when he got there.

The air silenced and he launched himself into the fray…

The Bar

Somewhat stunned by the realization that he was ducking out of this particularly brutal winter squall and into the building where his great uncle had met his final fate a half century ago, Tommy Kirk was pleasantly surprised when he’d opened the door to what turned out to be a pretty goddamn classy bar.

“Well I’ll be,” he whispered to himself, “This sure ain’t the old town I left.”

Folks were chatting comfortably and jazz was humming through the joint like a cool summers breeze. The smell of warm sauce and melting cheese filled the air and no one was cheering on another losing season in front of televisions as big as football fields.

“Well, well, well,” he chuckled as he thought, “if any of these folks knew Tommy Kirk’s story, they’d toss me out on my ass as soon as I’d turned the doorknob.” Kirk approached the crowded bar knowing that he knew just enough about drinking to not stand out like a sore thumb. Nodding to the pretty, dark-haired bartender he spoke with a quiet, lawyerly confidence “I’ll have an old fashioned please.” The bartender nodded, “one old fashioned, coming right up sir!”

“I could get used to this,” he figured as a smile started across his face. The Kirk’s were never smilers, but then again, they never seemed to have a goddamn thing to smile about.

The bartender eased a cool glass down onto the bar and slid it towards Kirk. “Hey, Tom Kirk,” said a voice from behind him. “Been a long, long time.” Kirk’s smile disappeared, he was a Kirk after all, and he turned. “Jesus Christ, McFinn?! Is that you McFinn? You’re a cop now?” Kirk could not help himself. He just started laughing. Laughing loudly. He glanced down and took a sip of his drink between chortles. Letting out a heavy sigh, he lifted his gaze back up and towards McFinn.

“McFinn,” he said with urgency, “DUCK!”

The Paddy Wagon

The paddy wagon slammed its doors and slowly trundled down the iced alleyway with its cargo safely handcuffed in the rear. Sgt. McFinn sighed and looked at his watch. Two minutes till shift change. He would type up the Night Man report tomorrow. He didn’t want to go home back to the soon to be ex wife. Probably wouldn’t hurt to check out the new speakeasy everyone was talking about. He’d walk thru and see if the owners would offer him a cordial beverage. He slipped his badge into his pocket and headed in.

The place was packed. Everybody who was somebody in the Steel City was crowded around the bar, watching a dark haired gypsy tantalizingly crafting magic potions with deft skill. Another bartender stood next to her, like a bespectacled carnival barker, regaling the crowd with the historical footnotes they would surely taste in tonight’s special elixir. The proprietress glided past him with a welcoming smile and placed a Little King in front of him. “On the house, officer.” A wink and she was gone, into the crowd.

That’s when he saw Kirk. But it was also at that moment that Tyron “Lil Flip” Penny saw him…

The Smell of Bacon


The first thing he remembered was the sweet smell of bacon. Not just any bacon, but some sort of glazed sweet smelling bacon. His eyes and his brain battled to be the first to regain focus. Something felt cold against his face. “Wha…what happened,” he tried to mutter but what tasted like a mouthful of blood kept the words from fully forming.
“Spit it in the trash can asshole,” said a gruff busied yet calm voice.
Tommy Kirk’s eyes started to win the battle and he quickly realized that he was sitting in a kitchen. The cook or chef or whatever the fuck you’d call him was a burly, half-shaven and knit cap topped mountain of a man. “Keep the flank steak on that face my man, or that face is gonna swell up like a two year olds birthday balloons.”
Kirk felt a slab of something cold in his own hand. He pulled it from his face and glanced down. Sure as shit it was a hunk of red meat. He tried to crack a smile but the only thing that felt like it cracked was his orbital bone around his right eye. He leaned over and spit a mouthful of blood into the little red bucket the chef had placed beside his seat.
“What happened?” he mumbled.
“You my friend,” the chef replied cheerfully, “to put it bluntly, took one for the team.”
“I did what?”
“You saved McFinn’s ass my friend.”
McFinn, oh shit, McFinn…that’s right. Kirk remembered – the fancy cocktail joint, that guy raising the hefty white plate over his head behind him…
“And…you saved one of my best plates!” the chef laughed. “You’ve got a soft noggin dude. Didn’t even chip the thing! I owe you.”
“Who was that guy?” Kirk whispered.
“It doesn’t matter man,” the chef said with a suddenly very serious tone but never breaking stride with the dough he was working dutifully. “Here’s the deal. ‘That guy’ is very bad news. I’ve dealt with him many a time in my day job. He is serious business in this town. Very serious.”
His tone was sufficiently ominous to keep Kirk’s attention.
“He obviously had a “job” to do, and you warning Kirk like that – while heroic in most eyes – is very likely a death sentence in some other eyes.”
Kirk silently mused to himself, “of course”

The Doppleganger


“So,” the burly pizza maker said, nodding towards a black door on the back wall of his makeshift kitchen. “You are going to go through that door, there is a garage behind that. I’ve unlocked the small hatch on the garage door for you. You are going to go through the garage and get your ass out of here for sure. And, if you’re smart, you’ll get the hell out of this city. Hear me?”
Kirk nodded.
“Thanks for this,” he said smart-assedly, placing the cold red meat onto the edge of a stainless steel work table. “Don’t serve this, okay?”
The chef smiled a warm smile. Kirk opened the black door and stepped into the cold, cluttered garage.
“Hey,” the chef snapped, “I’ve left you a cold can of Blatz on the shelf. Do NOT even think of touching any of these peoples other beer in there or I’ll make sure my plate breaks when it hits your face. Entiendes?” Kirk had lived in this town long enough to understand. Hell, he’d lived here long enough to have become half Hispanic by osmosis.

The cold can of beer tasted good to him as he flipped his hoody up and stepped out of the garage hatch into the night. “Of course I got myself into a mess,” he thought as he shook his head. There’s no reason for me to stick around in this god-forsaken city…never has been he told himself. Tommy Kirk headed down the back alley going nowhere in particular but for certain he was getting the hell out of town.

A younger man leaned against the back of the neighboring building smoking a cigarette. His hat was pulled down almost over his eyes. “Hey pal,” Kirk said, “can I bum a smoke?” The young man lifted his head and pulled his hat off. “Sure,” he said.

Tommy Kirk was speechless. As if twenty-some odd years had been erased, he found himself looking dead on into a mirror. “Here you go dad,” the youthful doppelgänger said, “you smoke menthols too?”

My Town’s a Steel Town

They tell you don’ walk down Paradise Alley, you ain’t gon’ like what you find…don’t walk down Paradise Alley, you gon’ make a deal wit’ the devil in time…”  – Jacob “Blind Dog” Penny, circa 1933- off of the first, and last, Lorain blues album to hit national airwaves: “My Town’s a Steel Town.”

The Elevator Shaft

“‘Paradise Alley” my ass”, he thought as he hustled around it’s corner. The song that should have made him world famous had instead left him penniless and panhandling. Instant small city fame, it turns out, is a nasty Mistress and she really did a number on Jake Penny. “Blind Dog” they called him, and he sure as shit was. So blind that he never saw the backlash coming and when you live on borrowed money, well then, your living on borrowed time. Now here he was, slipping down that very alley, a beat cop on his tail, another man’s wallet in his hand and his blood on Penny’s shoes. “Gotta throw this cop off my trail”, his bourbon soaked brain told him. Just before his hustle broke into a run, he stopped for a half a second and kicked in a wooden door on the side of a building. “Yeah,” he figured, “he’ll think I busted in there…”

The Ghost

The day after…morning gleamed its way along the brick walls and the silence hung heavy, as if the raucous evening before had exhausted the aged building. George Kirk smiled to himself as he settled into a stool and stirred the phantom coffee in front of him. These were good people. He was glad they were bringing life back into the place he had been guarding from the beyond for so many years. And now, life was beginning to come full circle. Things were getting interesting down here again..


The door wasn’t there yesterday. He wouldn’t have missed that detail. He was trained by Kashadirian monks at the age of 4, for Rao’s sake. How could he have missed a door? The bald one and the lithe one had returned to their home above the shuttered speakeasy that evening and he was sure something was up. Nothing moved in the city that night. But he could sense something in the air. His instincts proved right as he saw the owners appear in the window of the door. It opened. They stepped out…and disappeared! “Welcome to the party, Night Man.” He swirled around and there they were. On the snow covered roof, behind him. Holding out a cocktail. “Magic” Night Man spat in disgust…”I hate magic.”

The Daily News

It seemed like a footnote to most, but as he sipped his coffee, set the paper down and surveyed the bar, he thought back to last night. Last night on that snowy rooftop. No one would believe any of it…not a word, but that was the moment this city changed forever.

The Lighthouse

“Kurt! KURT!!! You don’t understand! I think there’s a warrant out for my arrest!”  I sighed slowly and laid my paper down next to my coffee. It was 7:30 in the morning. Last night had left me drained and now I had Vincent “Cannonball” Gutticelli on the phone. “Vince, you’re a lawyer. How do you have a warrant out for your arrest?” “I can’t talk now! I have to go to the lighthouse! Do you understand?!” The lighthouse!” Then he hung up.

Vincent was the most eccentric attorney this town had ever seen. A mad genius who knew more about The Rolling Stones than they did. He could tell you Otto Dennings batting record for the 1942 Cleveland Indians. There weren’t too many people that could handle riding on the bulletin train that was Vincent’s stream of consciousness. I knew this may be a completely mundane situation, hyper intensified by Vincent’s giant brain. But it was kind of weird that lightning was flashing over the lake a few blocks up the street. In the middle of a snowstorm…

The Champ

Tyrone “Lil Flip” Penny kept the seminary collar in his pocket whenever he stepped out at night. It reminded him of a time when he thought he knew better. Tonight, he didn’t. When he saw the cop that had given him the jaywalking ticket, the bottled rage that got him expelled from the Episcopalians found its way to the surface. The ex Golden Gloves champion, ex marine, ex steel worker won out over the ex priest in him. The cop didn’t arrest him. He was cool. That other dude probably wouldn’t be so cool. When he woke up. Breakfast at blue sky. That’s what you did in this town after a brawl. The eggs were perfect. Maybe there was a god after all…


The Night Man watched the window that used to be his as a child. The window he used to look out of, swearing he would make a difference. It wasn’t much different now then it was then. But he was…


McFinn sat quietly at the bar as it slowly began to fill with bodies. “Man,” he spoke to himself silently, “never did I think we’d see something like this in this city.” He smiled at the thought.

Just a week prior he’d nearly been cracked over the head with a plate ten feet from where he now sat and today he was a just a quiet customer at the far end of the bar. Stirring his smoky drink, he felt a sense of pride in his town for the first time, well, ever. “Taco combo?” a slightly accented voice asked him. “Yes sir,” he replied as the older gentleman sat the plate on the bar in front of him. “You enjoy those Mr. Policia,” the man said with a smile as he twirled and deftly cleared the table behind them.

McFinn watched as the older gentleman navigated the crowded room with a series of ballet like moves, plates above everyone’s heads, twisting, turning and never, ever colliding with a customer. In all of the years he’d spent as a cop, hell even his time as in the military special forces, he’d never seen someone move with such grace, purpose and control…the thought paused him. McFinn took a gulp of his drink and watched the man some more. He HAD seen someone move like this before. Exactly like this.
Another quick gulp then another glance as the waiter glided past him and down the hall to towards the kitchen. The feet…those nimble feet.
“No fucking way,” he said quietly to himself. “No fucking way!” He smiled at the thought and finished his drink pretty damn sure of what he’d just figured out. “Night Man…The Night Man moves like that! The Night Man moves exactly like that!”


Timmy Duckfoot was the greatest drummer the world had ever seen. He used to stand in front of the propane cage at gas stations smoking cigarettes just to freak people out. Tonight, he would frighten people for another reason. The harpoon sticking out of his back made his signature duck walk even more erratic. He stumbled to his knees and whispered his dying last word. “Cannonball….”

The Lawyer

Cold waves, no, frigid freezing waves soaked Vincent Guticelli’s pant legs. The pieces and parts of the splintered rowboat beat themselves against the breakwall turning into splinters.
“Cap?!?” he called out into the snowy, dark night. “Cap, are you okay?!” The liability of having lost not only the rowboat, but perhaps even the man rowing it gnawed at him despite his dire and desperate situation. Then he realized…it was cold. Very, very cold. Too cold for the thunder and lightning that continued out over the lighthouse.
Suddenly and surprisingly his cell phone came to life with an incoming call. Guticelli answered as he always did: “Vincent!” The voice on thee other end stammered and then faded. “V…v…vince…?”
“Duck?” he replied. “Is that you Duck?”


Stropko walked in after tossing the last unruly customer of the night. “Amateurs” he said. The ex-hockey star, settled into the role of a chef and fiancée was tired of dealing with the kids that came through his bar every night. He stared out at the lake and wondered at the coming storm. It was unusual for this time of year. Then he noticed the strange man walking along the pier. The harpoon gun sat comfortably in his left hand. His eyes squinted…the man looked dangerous…and oddly pigeon toed…

The Big Fish Hunter

“Everyone has their vices.” The voice from behind him was a gruff accented one, Boston area the bartender figured. He turns to greet his new guest. “For some it’s sex, others drugs or alcohol, then there are those all about money or power,” he paused, lifting his can of Stroh’s with the hook that replaced his right hand. “Those sorts of vices get men killed, so you’re just fine popping those little sugar pills my friend.”
The bartender nodded, tossing the last few M&M’s into his mouth simultaneously. “The name is Mulligan,” the stranger said with a slight cackle, apparently having amused himself. “Jack Mulligan, but people call me Orca…because…” He turned his good hand over, palm down on the bar, revealing a wrist to elbow tattoo of incredible intricacy – a listing tall ship being smashed by what looked like a killer whale. It was a particularly detailed and garish scene on the man’s arm – bodies, apparently the ships crew, strewn about the water, masts snapping like matchsticks, anguish and fear everywhere. Except, in the center of the messy chaotic scene was one man, a calm, confident looking figure with a hook for a right hand. There seemed to be a big grin and a calm on his face that belied the situation. And he was clearly readying a harpoon to try and finish off the giant sea creature.
“I hunt fish…BIG fish.”